Next stop is Group F where Austria take on Hungary in their opening game of the tournament. Now maybe it's the History student in me but I can't help but wonder that 98 years ago, Austria and Hungary would have been the same team, however they disbanded after the First World War and here they are playing against each other in the European Championships. Anyway onto the important part which is analysing the football teams of these 2 nations.
Austria are currently ranked 10th in the world (1 place above England) in the FIFA World Rankings and I know that they're slightly distorted at times but it shows that Austria have been winning games consistently for a while. So much so that they finished in 1st place in Qualifying Group G and only managed to lose 1 game, winning the other 9! They also finished 8 points clear of Russia in 2nd and their group also included Zlatan Ibrahimovic's Sweden in it. Those 2 teams also qualified for the Euros, so if they can beat them in qualifying so confidently, then how far can they go in this tournament?
David Alaba of Bayern Munich is without doubt Austria's best and most famous player in this years squad, however they do have a few more players at their disposal, Aleksander Dragovic is a very capable centre back that is wanted by lots of clubs around the world, Stokes Marko Arnautovic also had an impressive season in the Premier League and Werder Bremen's Zlatko Junuzovic who is somewhat of a free kick specialist, so watch out for Austria as they could be the surprise package the tournament.
On the other hand Hungary do not have a great squad. I don't mean to be disrespectful but they managed to qualify via a playoff due to finishing 3rd in a group that contained Northern Ireland and Romania. Also based on their stats in that group, they don't score many and they concede a lot, so not very good omens for the tournament if I'm completely honest.
They do have a couple of technically gifted players like Balazs Dzsudzsak, formally of Zenit and former Fulham and West Brom midfielder Zoltan Gera however they're both quite old. Even the keeper Gabor Kiraly is 40 years old!
Austria should walk this. They might even have time to make a brew in between passes. I can't see Hungary posing any kind of threat whatsoever to this Austrian defence and I think players like Arnautovic, Alaba and Harnik could have an absolute field day. Austria to win - easily.
There's a chance that Austria could steamroll Hungary here, so for a cheeky couple of quid here and there, this bet isn't a bad shout. It would probably get a decent return too, only issue is that because Hungary don't score a lot, the pressure would be on Austria to score most of the goals.
I've said this enough times now, Austria should win this without really breaking stride. It's the ideal opening game to build up confidence and Austria could give Portugal a tough game if they smash Hungary and Iceland too. Hungary will struggle to keep them out and anything less than 3-0 is a let down from an Austrian point of view.
I can't see Austria not scoring in the first half and/or second half. This bet is a no brainer to be honest. I think its more of a matter of how many Austria will score in each half rather than will they actually win each half.
He wasn't mentioned in my initial preview notes at the top but he was Austria's top goal scorer in qualifying with 7 goals and is likely to start up top for the Austrians. Yes they could get a free kick and Junuzovic or Alaba could score but I'd say the smart money is on Janko.
Austria's defence is quite resolute and with the calming influence of Alaba sat in front of the back four, paired with the woeful bluntness of Hungary's attacking players, Austria are more than capable of keeping a clean sheet here even though they may focus primarily on attacking the Hungarians. Aleksander Dragovic of Dynamo Kiev was being courted by many a Premier League club last summer and in January and those same clubs will no doubt be watching him from the stands as he is a classy defender about to hit his prime. So a clean sheet and a good defensive performance from him will be just what Austria are looking for.